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Technical comparison of ANT, ZigBee and Bluetooth

Market name ANT ZigBee Bluetooth
Standard Proprietary IEEE802.15.4 IEEE802.15.1
Application PANs and WSNs PANs and WSNs PANs
Host resources (kByte) 2(0 with SensRcoreâ„¢) 100 250
Battery life (with coin-cell battery)§ 3+ years 4 to 6 months* 1 to 7 days*
Max. network size (nodes) 2^32 2^64 7
Over the air transmission rate (kbit/s) 1000 250 1000
Required PCB area (mm2) 125 Depends on architecture Depends on architecture
Range (metres) 1 to 30 1 to 100+ 1 to 10+
Success metrics Ultra-low power, cost Power, cost Cost, convenience
Supported networks Peer-to-peer, star, tree, mesh Peer-to-peer, star, tree, mesh Peer-to-peer, star
Min. node configuration Transmit only or transceiver Transceiver Transceiver

§ 8 Byte data message, 2 second message interval, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.

* Theoretical only. Peak current requirement for ZigBee and Bluetooth exceeds coin cell battery capability so coin cell operation is impractical.

The Bluetooth protocol is designed for rapid file transfer between devices in a PAN such as PDA, cell-phone and portable computer. Bluetooth’s stack is 100 times larger than ANT, its average power consumption is 10 times greater and the hardware costs are 90 percent higher. Compared to Bluetooth, ZigBee is undoubtedly less expensive and more power efficient. ZigBee’s backers make much of the fact that its protocol stack is less than a quarter the size of Bluetooth’s. However, ANT is at least an order of magnitude smaller than ZigBee and forty times smaller than Bluetooth.

Current data on the not-yet-released Bluetooth Low Energy indicates that it will cost 25%-35% more per sensor node and consume a minimum of 25% more power for the same data transmitted.

In addition, ZigBee’s relatively complex protocol increases the external micro controller burden compared with ANT, demanding micro controllers that are more powerful and increasing system cost by 60 percent. ANT’s requirement for external host resources is eliminated when using SensRcore™.

In operation, ANT’s ultra-low power consumption makes ZigBee look distinctly power hungry. In similar applications with similar usage patterns, ANT transceivers using coin cell-type batteries can extend battery life up to four years compared to just a few months for ZigBee.

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